A Literary Deconstruction of the PD, undertaken with direction and funding from the Dr Tran Institute of Kicking Your Ass
What religious narrative in this present day, teaches us such lessons in fabulous morality as the Principia Discordia? Does any other belief system teach that uncertainty and ambiguity trump order and discipline? Or that order and discpline themselves contain an a priori
possibility of the state of uncertainty coming into play?
This discourse of order and disorder, from where does it arise, this formidable tradition that includes Lao Tzu, Heraclitus, Nietzsche, Artaud, Dali, Duchamp, Tazara and Deleuze? Does Discordianism truly belong to this august, if mutuable geneology?
From the outset, the introduction to the Principia introduces ambiguity, foreshadowing Barthe's Death of the Author. The nature of the author of the tract is purposefully concealed and denied, in an attempt to escape the tyranny of subjectivity, pinning the blame instead of a vast number of culprits, perhaps to show the futility of subjectivity as a starting point for a critique. Yet the authors are nonetheless identified, so does this not make a mockery of their post-structuralist stance?
Not necessarily. For the claimed authors are in fact fictional constructs themselves, as we well know. Furthermore, their approach to their work is detatched, almost bemused by their own interests and obsessions. The irreducibly textual nature of the work is thus reaffirmed, and the simplistic, postivistic attempts to criticize the Principia with simplified versions of its own arguments are easily dismissed.
The apparent eccentricities of the text, such as Wilson's claims about the time-travelling anthropologist, are often dismissed as harmless as whimsical diversions on the part of a critic who required some form of ‘creative’ escape from the exigencies of high-powered theory. This attitude, typical of Anglo-American criticism, draws a ﬁrm line between the discipline of thinking about chaos and the activity of writing which that discipline is supposed to renounce or ignore in its own performance. Criticism as ‘answerable style’ (in Geoﬀrey Hartman’s phrase) is an idea that cuts right across the deep-grained assumptions of academic discourse. It is, as I shall argue, one of the most unsettling and radical departures of Discordian thought. A properly attentive reading of Wilson brings out the extent to which critical concepts are ceaselessly transformed or undone by the activity of self-conscious writing. His subversive tactics come down to an inordinate fondness for paradox disguising a commitment to order and method.
The interview of Malacypse the Younger by the Greater Poop illustrates not only the need to draw boundaries between meta-fictional philosophical discourses, but also to transgress these boundaries when the cease to have utility for the reader. This boundary was always subject to periodic raids and incursions by the more adventurous Proto-Discordians, especially those poets and novelists among them who felt uneasy with a discipline that drove a doctrinal wedge between the two kinds of writing. The issue was more than a matter of critical technique. What the orthodox Proto-Discordians sought in the language of poetry was a structure somehow transcending human reason and ultimately pointing to a religious sense of values. Thus the autonomic-reflexivity of poetry became not merely an issue in aesthetics but a testing-point of faith in relation to human reason. Behind the Proto-Discordian rhetoric of irony and paradox is a whole metaphysics of language, where poetic and religious claims to truth are bound up together. At the same time there were those who assented in principle to this discipline of thought but found it in practice hard, if not impossible, to live with.
The Greater Poop reporter like Barthes, asserts the critic’s freedom to exploit a style that actively transforms and questions the nature of interpretative thought. In itself this marks a decisive break with the scrupulous decorum of critical language maintained in the Situatioist's wake. This is to argue that theory, in so far as it is valid at all, is strictly a matter of placing some orderly construction upon the ‘immediate’ data of perception. Barthes and Malaclypse totally reject this careful policing of the bounds between literature and theory. Where the post-Situationist's proposed a disciplined or educating movement of thought from perception to principle, they discovered an endlessly fascinating conﬂict, the ‘scene’ of which is the text itself in its alternating aspects of knowledge and pleasurable fantasy.
I can do this all day long, you know.